Using Design in Note Taking

April 28, 2010
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I wanted to share a template with you that I use when giving notes.

The idea came from a conversation with a colleague who had attended an in-service on Marzano‘s strategies.  (To see more on Marzano and Dan Pink’s right-brain aptitudes see this post)

When asking students to take notes, the obvious weakness in strategy is assessing their understanding and maintaining their interest.  To address both of these issues, I gave students this template.  Basically I give a short lecture where students take notes, about 10-15 minutes.  (I use fill-in-the-blank notes in my classes.)

I then pause and ask students to take out their template and to “draw out” what I had just covered.  What are the basic ideas?  Can you recreate them in a picture?  I give them about five minutes to do this.  While students are drawing, I circulate around the room and check on their work.

The result has been incredible.  For an example from this week, I lectured students on the division of Germany after World War II.  I then asked students to draw it out.  Questions began to arise like “Where is Berlin in Germany?” or “Which side is East?”

With just a five-minute upgrade, my students were beginning to dive deeper into the subject than ever before.  Now they saw why the Berlin Airlift was necessary.  (Berlin is in East Germany)  They began to understand the “Iron Curtain” (East vs West)

I would suggest this activity to anyone who ever delivers a lecture to their students regardless of subject.  It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words.  By making students draw, I began to tap into their design aptitude that is described by Dan Pink in A Whole New Mind.  Students had to figure out a number of details that would have been allowed to slip by in a normal lecture.

It’s a powerful tool and I am excited to share it with you.  Simple, easy, and effective.  It takes your students from the application stage of Bloom’s up through creation stage as students must take words and create new visual highlights.

And what about Marzano and his strategies?  This activity can include cooperative learning, outstanding student engagement, and the creation of personalized graphic organizers.  Plus it is a definite nonlinguistic representation combined with  student “chunking” and summarization. And let’s not forget the underlying structure: It is all based on note-taking!

Please leave a reply and let me know what summary devices you use in your classroom.  I know there are so many great and creative options out there, and we all would love to hear your ideas!

Picture Notes Template

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One Response to Using Design in Note Taking

  1. Lesson Upgrades
    April 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Blog post: Using Design in Note Taking http://bit.ly/aGgc21 #danielpink #design #lessonplans

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